Wednesday, March 08, 2006

CFS and School

A few days ago, I said that after a relaxing weekend, I was ready to take on whatever came my way. I should know better than to tempt fate like that!

We are finding ourselves once again embroiled in major conflict with Jamie's middle school. I say "finding ourselves" because we certainly aren't looking for these battles. We have no idea why the school has suddenly begun to balk at accommodations that have been in Jamie's 504 plan (a plan of accommodations for kids with disabilities) since October. He's doing wonderfully in school, getting to three classes a day, rarely missing a day, and working with a fabulous homebound tutor for the other two classes. He's gotten mostly A's all year long.

We requested a meeting with his math teacher about 6 weeks ago, to address some concerns she had with Jamie's "poor performance" (that's the one class he got a B in during the 2nd marking period). We took her concerns seriously and reviewed his homework and tests. We noticed a pattern - with longer assignments or tests, Jamie would start making tiny errors toward the end. He understood the concepts but would transpose numbers, miscopy an answer from a worksheet to the test, or make simple arithmetic errors. We were surprised to learn that, not only is this very common in CFS, it even has a name - dyscalcula.

We couldn't wait to share our new insights with his teacher, but she kept dragging her feet about meeting with us. We figured that once she understood what was going on, she could make some minor adjustments like allowing Jamie to take tests at home, in short intervals, as he'd done occasionally before.

That was over a month ago. She refuses to meet with us and has gotten the principal involved (he's never even met Jamie and has nothing to do with the 504 process). He now says that we can't even talk to the teacher until we present a doctor's note with support from the district level. He also said he will not allow Jamie to take tests at home (something that's already a part of his 504 plan).

It's just a mess, rife with conflict and stress. We are stunned that such a minor, innocent request has turned into such a big controversy. I'm spending my week on the phone with the school district and doctors. I'm sure this will all be resolved, but it's so frustrating right now.

I wish that CFS wasn't so poorly understood by the general public. It seems that the teacher and principal might be thinking that we're trying to take advantage of them - an absurd thought to us! We're just trying to help our son have a level playing field with his peers, so he can reach his full potential. We don't even care about the grades, but we'd like for his teacher to have a more accurate understanding of his strengths and weaknesses.

Hopefully, we'll make some progress tomorrow.

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